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This is the time of year when folks everywhere reflect on their lives and make some resolutions. That is, they see areas where they perceive a need for change, hopefully for the better. These resolutions range anywhere from feasible (I'm going to lose five pounds!) to unrealistic (I'm going to write a best-seller!) and most folks usually lose interest in their goal after facing some difficulty in getting there.
My mother used to tell me that anything worth having is worth the effort to
get it and the same is true of the resolutions we make. The best thing that
anyone; boy, girl, man or woman can aim for is a closer walk with Jesus but
just like any other worthwhile goal, it requires effort; diligent effort on
James 4:7-8 tell us, "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." Notice that the imperative in these statements is directed to us. We must submit to God, We must resist the devil, and We must draw near to Him if we want Him to be closer to us. God never forces Himself on anyone and a closer walk with Him will not come by magic, we must be willing to put forth the effort to bring it about. How then can we submit, resist, and draw near? Submitting to God is to realize that He has the best answers and can be trusted to lead your life while you humble yourself and follow (1 Peter 5:6). It means to do what He wants even when those things are not quite what you had in mind. It means loving Him enough to put Him first in all you do, making time to read His Word everyday to find out what His desires for your life are, then finding ways to apply those principles in real ways everyday.
Resisting the devil is to simply resist the ways and places in which he can tempt you. Paul reminds us in Romans 13:14, "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lust." "Putting on the Lord" is to be so wrapped up in the will of Christ that we would never put ourselves in a situation that might cause us to stumble. Did you have a problem with alcohol? Then don't go where it's served! Do you have a problem with containing your sexual desires? Then don't put yourself in a situation where they can be aroused! The devil will play on what your weaknesses are but you can foil his plans! Be so enveloped in Jesus' plan for your life that you no longer have the desire for these fleshly lusts. With His help, you can do it!
Drawing near to God involves a number of things. If we want to get closer
to someone in our lives, we find out what pleases them and we put some interest
in those things. It's the same way with God. If we really want to be close to
Him, we must find out what pleases Him and place those things above all else.
Of course, to find out those things we must read His will which was already
mentioned but cannot be stressed enough. In the pages of the Bible, we will
find out what pleases God, what displeases Him, what to do in times of trial
or sorrow, how to interact with our fellow man (& woman!), the answers to
the toughest moral questions and even the meaning to life itself (Eccl. 12:13-14)!
Then, if we really want to be closer to Him, we will want to worship Him at
every opportunity. When we think about His awesome goodness, His great power
and might, and the wonderful gift of salvation that He's extended to you and
me, why wouldn't we want to honor Him? If we really want to get closer to Him,
why wouldn't we want to take the time to be available to seek Him at every service
of the local church? If we say we belong to Christ and even call ourselves by
His name, then why is skipping out on a time to corporately give Him
thanks and praise the easiest thing for some of us to do? That kind of thing makes us double minded, saying we are Christians yet not doing what we know would please Him.
Drawing near to God is more than just receiving His gift and saying you're a Christian. It entails making a real effort to get Him in your life and keep Him there by doing all you can to please Him. For most of us, this means making some changes in the areas we've fallen short and while none of us is perfect, with each others' help we CAN change ourselves to better serve the One who gave it all for you and me. Is it time for you to make a change?
By Zeke Flores
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